Fantasy-and-horror artists advised their hopeful fans at the Manchester Monster Convention over the weekend.
The convention was held at Sachas Hotel by Hic Dragones, a Manchester-based literature organisation that runs training events and publishes dark fiction.
The first talk of the two-day event was arguably the most anticipated as it featured Emmerdale's Dominic Brunt (Paddy).
The Macclesfield actor was accompanied with cameraman Neal Myers to show a clip from his directorial debut, a zombie horror named Before Dawn.
Mr Brunt and Mr Myers followed the clip with an entertaining and informative Q&A, where they revealed that the shoot was so meticulous that they hired a dental lab technician to design zombie teeth for the actors to wear.
Mr Brunt’s Night of the Demon-influenced debut was filmed with ‘the Fig Rig’, a set-up wherein a small video camera is attached to the inside of a steering wheel-like platform. By holding both hands onto the wheel, Mr Brunt and Mr Myers explained, you can smoothly navigate complex camerawork without the image turning wobbly.
They said they both preferred this to the RED camera, which is most often used by other indie film-makers.
When asked if he has any follow-up ideas, the director responded that he’s considering a horror-action hybrid involving zombies on a runaway train.
He enthused: “I just really like zombies!”
Another highlight was a Q&A session with Sam Stone, the author of the Vampire Gene series, and David J Howe, who has written numerous books on Doctor Who. After reading extracts from their work, the two writers gave recommendations to aspiring horror writers in the room.
Both suggested writing to the publishers listed in the Writers and Artists Yearbook and that having an agent can be an immense help, though the Vampire Gene writer does not have an agent.
“I made the mistake of self-publishing my first novel,” says Ms Stone, who originally wrote the manuscript for her Killing Kiss during her MA Creative Writing degree at the University of Bolton.
“Well, I say mistake partly because it was a stigma to self-publish at the time. But then I went on to win the Silver Award for Best Horror Novel in ForeWord Magazine's book of the year awards in 2007. So I got a deal through that and now I write full time. So I got the dream I wanted, really.”
She later said: “I’ve been looking at the state of the publishing industry at the moment, like the eBook situation for example, and it seems it’s no longer a stigma to publish your own work on Kindle. Actually a lot of top names are now doing it.”
The Convention also held writers’ panels for Wayne Simmons, Simon Bestwick, Scott Sandford, and a session with two graphic novelists, Leah Moore and John Reppion.
For the less practical monster fans, there were also three academic talks: ‘In Search of Real Monsters’, a talk by Richard Freeman, Zoological Director of the Centre for Fortean Zoology; ‘Psychopaths, Deviants and Serial Killers, Oh My!’, a talk on the psychology of ‘human monsters’ by a soon-to-be-doctorate Jacquelyn Brent; and ‘Watch Out Boy, She’ll Chew You Up’, a history of the female werewolf by Dr. Hannah Priest of the University of Manchester.
Hic Dragones’ Monster Convention was run in association with Grimm Up North, the Soapy Shop of Horrors, bookreal.tv and ShockHorror Magazine.